For(u)m Showcases Equitable, Cross-Sector Development "On the Line" In Mesa

Image courtesy of Ray Hernandez

Image courtesy of Ray Hernandez

Last month, For(u)m continued its exploration of development corridors across the Valley, this time moving to the more recent Mesa light rail extension. In partnership with the City of Mesa and RAILMesa, this focused bus tour brought together current Mesa business owners and property owners, prospective developers, real estate brokers, local advocates, and nonprofit organizations to explore the diversity of projects completed and in progress in the area, and how their presence paves the way for what is certain to come.

The tour opened with an exploration of Habitat Metro's newest proposal in partnership with Bob Worsley and Kent Lyons, adaptively reusing a midcentury bank building while adding multifamily residential and hotel units to current parking lots to the building's south.

From there, guests shuttled past the under-construction artist-affordable housing at Mesa Artspace Lofts, before landing at El Rancho Del Sol. Phase two of this family affordable housing development incorporates groundfloor mixed-use space housing several supportive nonprofits, including an eventual shared commercial kitchen managed by Fuerza Local.

It’s a matter of having the right architect, the right designers, the right community partners to make these kinds of projects work.
— Connor Descheemaker, Community Planning Coordinator, Local First Arizona

Next, the tour flipped westward, for a stop at the light rail's original "end of the line" near Dobson Rd., where we heard from Steven Diep of Mekong Plaza, who has built an unparalleled center of Asian commerce in a former Target, alongside Neil Calfee of Calfee Group, currently redeveloping a former park and ride into a multi-phase, mixed-use development.

Routing returned attendees downtown, for a stop at Starmar Investments' Sliver Lot, where the developers have activated a vacant lot for monthly movies, fundraisers, and other programming. Adjacent to the site, the group owns three retail suites on Main Street, two of which are currently undergoing the City of Mesa's facade improvement program, returning these historic storefronts to their original form--all are currently seeking long-term, local tenants.

Finally, a brief walk brought the tour to a close at the veteran-owned Cider Corps, the state's first cider brewery, housed in another adaptively-reused building, where guests heard from the brewery's founder, Josh Duren, about his role in Mesa's new walkable brewery district, just blocks from Oro and Desert Eagle Brewing.

For a full recap, check below for a video of the entire tour, including comments from attendees and organizers:

Related Stories